Alan Partridge retrospective documentary coming to the BBC this Christmas

Steve Coogan as the irrepressible Alan Partridge. (BBC)

There’ll be a Partridge amongst the pigeons this Christmas as Norfolk’s premier broadcaster, Mr Alan Partridge, will be returning to our screens in the form of a retrospective documentary ingeniously titled: “Why, When, Where, How and Whom?”

The show will air over the Christmas period on the BBC and comes in advance of a brand new series due to arrive in 2018. The documentary will give an in-depth look at the development of Alan over the decades and try to explain the winning formula which has made him such a mainstay of UK popular culture.

According to the BBC:

It has been a quarter of a century since a little known sports reporter was given his own radio chat show by the BBC. Two radio series, five TV series, four specials, two books and one movie later, Alan Partridge has an unrivalled place in the comedy pantheon.

To celebrate Alan’s return to his rightful home at the BBC in 2018, this retrospective documentary will look back at his journey from broadcaster caricature to the award-winning study of complexity and pathos that he has become.

We will hear from the man behind the man himself, Steve Coogan, as well as the acclaimed team that created him 25 years ago….

Through interviews and a wealth of never before seen archive footage including improv sessions, rehearsals and unseen outtakes, a light will be shone on the genesis of the character.

The documentary covers the complete spectrum of Partridge’s work, from his early days on “The Day Today” through to his recent feature film and “Mid-Morning Matters”. As well as Steve Coogan himself being heavily involved,  other confirmed talking heads include Armando Ianucci,  David Schneider and recent Partridge co-writers Neil and Rob Gibbons. There will also be appearances from esteemed Partridge alumni including Felicity Montagu (Lynn), Simon Greenall (Michael) and Tim Key (Sidekick Simon).

This image released by Magnolia Pictures shows Tim Key, left, and Steve Coogan in a scene from “Alan Partridge.” (AP Photo/Magnolia Pictures, Simon Thorpe)

For Partridge fans, this is an incredible chance to get a peek behind the curtain at how the character is formed and the creative process behind his shows. The promise of never before seen footage, outtakes and improv sessions will be of particular interest in this regard as it will give fans the chance to see Coogan and the creative team in full flow and perhaps glimpse how some of our favourite AP moments came into being.  

It’s been an exciting few months in general for fans of Partridge. Armando Iannucci recently guest-edited The Big Issue, the focal point of this was a healthy debate on Brexit between Alan in the “leave” camp and the always level-head Malcolm Tucker on team “remain”. 

Actor Steve Coogan poses in the pressroom with the award for best comedy in “Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle” at the at the New York Hilton on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Alan’s stance on Brexit also came into play when it was confirmed that in 2018 he would be returning to the BBC for his first new series with the broadcaster in 15 years. According to an interview with The New European, Steve Coogan confirmed that Alan would be “the voice of Brexit” in this upcoming new show, which is a role that suits north Norfolk’s finest down to the ground. Coogan added:

“Alan would have voted Brexit for sure. Hard Brexit, given the choice. He’s a Brexiteer because the Daily Mail told him to be.”

Long-term fans may also be wondering how Alan got back on the BBC after his dramatic fall from grace and unceremonious exit from the BBC gravy train all those years ago. However Coogan addressed this too:

“Well, because he has got a show on the BBC, we have a problem, because we have to explain why he’s a failure, but that he has a show. The logic of what he is doing has to make sense…It’s conceivable, because in this age of Brexit, they (the BBC) might think they need to get in touch with the ‘Little Englanders’ they ignore.”

Partridge is undeniably a textbook Little Englander. He’s a man resolute in his opinions and traditionally conservative in nature who utterly loathes political correctness gone mad. He may have at one stage been out-of-style and ostracised from life among the BBC liberal elite, but in Brexit Britain, the stage is truly set for his grand return. He may never have got his second series, but right now, he’s a man in demand once more.

It turns out he was right all along, people bounce back.   

Exact air dates for both “Why, When, Where, How and Whom?” and the new BBC series remain under wraps, but watch this space for further updates.

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